BELLEVILLE, Mich. — The Belleville Tigers (1-1) defeated the Western International Cowboys (0-2) 49-48 in a game that came down to the final possession.
Belleville guard Ja'Len Jenkins led the game with 17 points, and Western International Forward Jhonn Charles led his team with 12 points.
Here are the three takeaways.
Tigers defense won the game
In a game that featured decent-scoring offense, the Tigers kept the visiting Western International at bay with their superb defense.
During the first half, Belleville held the Cowboys scoreless for much of the second quarter. However, The Cowboys fought back, finally scoring with less than two minutes remaining in the quarter. The Tigers had already secured a crucial 28-23 lead heading into the second half.
During the second half, the stifling Belleville defense forced Western International to routinely toss up ill-advised shots, often leading to multiple baskets on the other end. The Belleville defense nearly came up clutch during the game's closing moments, forcing a Hail Mary three by Western International guard Jayden Wilson, cutting the Belleville lead to a one-point Belleville victory.
The Tigers' defense put together an impressive performance tonight, allowing them to leave as victors.
Jhonn Charles was a force of nature
Jhonn Charles was the difference-maker tonight. While The Belleville defense was impressive, their interior was helpless against the physicality of the Western International forward Charles.
While he ended the game with 12 points tonight, his rebounding and defensive output were beyond exceptional. He often out-rebounded multiple Belleville players, and defensively it became apparent that the Belleville offense was doing everything necessary to avoid the paint in fear of Charles' defensive presence.
Charles had five rebounds in the second quarter, and this double-double performance was a dominant display despite the losing outcome.
Physicality vs finesse
Both teams shined during this matchup. It came down to Western's physicality and Belleville's finesse.
This story reflected on the box score as Western scored 26 points inside the paint compared to Belleville's 16 inside points. However, Belleville made more threes than its opponent, perhaps the deciding factor in tonight’s outcome.
Belleville coach Adam Trumpour had nothing but praise for his team's hard-earned victory following the game.
“This is the win that helps you grow as a team," Trumpour said. "We played extremely hard. We’re a young team that graduated eight seniors last year. I like the chemistry of our team, I like the potential of our team. This will go a long way towards us reaching our potential.”
Throughout the game, Belleville had immense trouble containing the Western forwards, leading to multiple second-chance opportunities for The Cowboys.
“We’ll have to contain and practice paint security.” Trumpour said. “We need to eat some more sandwiches and do some more pushups. We’ve got to continue working on our rebounding drills. [Charles] was the difference in them coming back in the game. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”
Following this matchup, The Belleville Tigers will return home to play The River Rouge Panthers (0-0). Western International will take on the West Bloomfield Lakers (0-0).